Personnel Today Awards 2014 winners: Community Gateway wins L&D prize for smaller employers

Community Gateway Association collecting their 2014 Award for Excellence in L&D
Community Gateway Association collecting their 2014 Award for Excellence in Learning and Development

A not-for-profit community business in Preston has won the Personnel Today Award for Excellence in Learning & Development for employers with fewer then 1000 employees. Here we look at the Community Gateway Association’s winning entry and the submissions of all those on the shortlist.


WINNER: Community Gateway Association

About the organisation

Community Gateway Association is a not-for-profit community business, set up in 2005, to meet the housing needs of people in Preston and the surrounding areas.

The challenge

Evaluation in 2011/12 revealed that the value and impact of L&D had dropped, with a notable decrease in its internal feedback, KPIs and staff survey results. Feedback on training delivery/availability and development opportunities was also increasingly low, with negative feedback across the business, and the overall reputation of the L&D provision was on a downwards spiral. It wanted continuous learning to be a central aspect of the Gateway culture and needed a significant change in its approach to people development.

What the organisation did

  • Involved a total of 15 board members, 29 Gateway committee members, 72 colleagues, and 93 tenants in shaping the Purple Pathways Programme.
  • Established a different “pathway” for each stakeholder, facilitating a tailored approach focusing on specific development needs.
  • Moved away from a “one-size-fits-all” solution and improved overall alignment of training.
  • Created a “brand” for learning, connecting all aspects of personal development and training.
  • Took a fresh approach to the way that Purple Pathways is delivered, with every individual empowered to take ownership for their own development.

Benefits and achievements

  • Internal training feedback increased by 33.61% from 2011/12 to 2012/13. This now exceeds the feedback received from external course providers by 17.4%.
  • Improved internal training satisfaction figures, KPI results and the feedback/ratings in the Times 100 Best Companies survey in relation to personal growth.
  • A total of 1,974 days’ training has been completed across Pathway Programmes.
  • Achieved all 196 out of 196 indicators assessed within Investors in People re-accreditation in 2013, maintaining Gold status.
  • Within the Times 100 Best Companies to Work For results, Gateway moved from 37th in 2011/12, to 17th in 2012/13.
  • Customer service teams Times 100 feedback shows an increase of 17% in relation to their opportunities for personal growth.

Judges’ comments

“Strong application, clearly describing how their challenge was met with a holistic approach that created benefit to the organisation.”


Excellence in Learning and Development – the judges

Jane Turner, associate dean, Northumbria University, Faculty of Business and Law

David Goddin
, leadership development and change consultant, Change Continuum

Ksenia Zheltoukhova
, research adviser, CIPD

RUNNERS-UP

Action for Blind People

About the organisation

Action for Blind People is a national charity with local reach, providing practical help and support to blind and partially sighted people of all ages. Founded in 1857, the organisation has been offering vital support for blind and partially sighted people for more than 150 years, aiming to ensure that they are provided with the support that they need.

The challenge

Conscious that support functions must provide value for money while effectively supporting staff in delivering services to people with sight loss, Action for Blind People realised a widespread organisational review of performance management was needed. Individual goals also needed to be closer aligned with those of the organisation as a whole.

What the organisation did

  • Invested more than £20,000 over 2013/14 to introduce structured development and talent management programme in conjunction with Nationwide Training Ltd, an Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) approved centre.
  • Worked closely with learning and organisational development manager to ensure that units would deliver for all areas of the organisation.
  • Used questionnaire to gauge what units were most important, and those chosen focused on leadership capabilities, managing efficiently and effectively, and leading innovation and change.
  • Combined units into one assignment, then gained agreement from the ILM.
  • Drew participants from all parts of the organisation to enable different perspectives.
  • Helped leaders within the organisation to improve their critical thinking by providing reflective space and tools needed to assess actual real-life experiences.

Benefits and achievements

  • Participants learned to embed their learning into actual operational performance.
  • Explored leadership and what is needed to help the organisation meet challenges of service users over the coming years.
  • Individuals are clearer on how their work contributes to the wider goals of the organisation, and they have been able to cascade this to their teams.
  • Addressed a number of live business issues identified by attendees, who are working on solutions and engaging with key stakeholders to implement required changes.
  • Employees have been encouraged to look at issues from a more holistic and strategic, rather than purely operational, viewpoint.
  • Confidence levels have increased, due to participants being able to reflect, share learning, and implement things differently.
  • Programme has received excellent feedback and is oversubscribed for future attendees.

Judges’ comments

“Good comprehensive approach, commendable for a systemic take on learning and development.”


Wade Deacon High School

About the organisation
Wade Deacon High School is a is a coeducational secondary school and sixth form with academy status, located in Widnes, Cheshire, England. It has 1,500 students (aged between 11 and 16) and employs 290 staff.

The challenge

The strapline for the school is to have “A commitment to excellence”, but in order for this to apply to the people working for it as well as the students, Wade Deacon needed a strategy for professional development. It also wanted to ensure that all members of staff, regardless of age or experience, had a way to hone and refine their skills and knowledge.

What the organisation did

  • Linked professional development and performance management under the umbrella title of “better together”.
  • Focused closely on collaboration and sharing to provide staff with new strategies and approaches to deliver key organisational objectives.
  • Introduced weekly development sessions, which are led by members of staff and concentrate on areas for improvement.
  • Targeted sessions at individuals with specific areas of responsibility and cover: teaching and learning; leadership and management; behaviour and safety; and progress and attainment.
  • Introduced induction programme so that everyone is fully prepared.
  • Ran training sessions where a nationally recognised speaker delivers a lecture and follow-up workshop.
  • Implemented 20-minute, early morning sessions covering details of a particular aspect of classroom practice that has been proven to be effective.
  • Encouraged staff to be involved in accredited programmes, including Master’s-level courses.

Benefits and achievements

  • Twenty-four members of staff have gained a Master’s degree.
  • Initiated, and lead, a “Learning Alliance” with a range of local and regional educational providers from nursery schools to universities.
  • Staff worked closely together on attitudes and approaches to specific aspects of educational policy and developments.
  • Feedback from sessions has been incredibly positive with members of staff feeling that they have not only learned but also “thoroughly enjoyed themselves”.

Judges’ comments

“A strong application aligning inclusive learning and development with organisational ethos.”


Sterling Insurance Group

About the organisation

Sterling Insurance Group Ltd is a UK insurance group that operates across a number of different market sectors and offers a diverse range of products and services. Established by Nicholas Cooper in 1999, the Group has enjoyed impressive growth to become one of the most successful independent insurers in the country. Success has been achieved by a client-focused philosophy and a commitment to developing and marketing a wide range of bespoke products.

The challenge

The group needed to develop a series of learning and development initiatives aimed at increasing professionalism and a creating a more motivated and driven workforce. In addition to industry training requirements, it also needed to provide soft skills training for its employees.

What the organisation did

  • Implemented the Sterling Training Academy, which carries out learning and development initiatives structured to staff and industry requirements.
  • Provided funding so that employees could gain Chartered Institute of Insurance qualifications.
  • Partnered with a a local training company, Kent Trainers, to provide bespoke courses. These covered issues such as maximising sales, team building and handling customer complaints.
  • Offered two-year graduate training scheme designed to “nurture new talent”.
  • Implemented internal technical training and coaching sessions within relevant departments.

Benefits and achievements

  • Achieved Chartered Insurer status, a public commitment to raising standards of knowledge, capability and ethical practice within the industry.
  • Department that undertook the “Maximising Sales” course reported 10% increased sales conversion rate.
  • Saw a 45% increase in employees attaining CII certificate-level qualifications in the last year, while 15% are also studying for a diploma-level qualification.
  • December 2013 annual employee survey revealed that 86% of employees reported excellent levels of satisfaction with their training and learning and development.
  • Independent broker survey reflected that 90% of brokers rated product and technical training as excellent, 96% of brokers were satisfied with the content and location of courses and 88% voted the technical knowledge of staff as very good or excellent.
  • Brokers attending courses so far in 2014 increased by 20% compared with 2013.
  • Won the Insurance Times Insurer Training Program of the Year award.

Judges’ comments

“A comprehensive learning programme for employees and brokers that is making an impact.”


Fossil UK Ltd

About the organisation

Fossil is a global lifestyle company specialising in consumer fashion accessories. It designs, markets, distributes, and retails accessory products under both owned and licensed brand names. Its products include watches, jewellery, leather goods, sunwear, apparel and footwear, and they are sold in department stores and speciality retail stores in more than 90 countries worldwide.

The challenge

While training and development had always been taken seriously at Fossil, courses were offered in a blanket, “one-size-fits-all” way. There were no formal learning opportunities to support either the growth of the organisation or employees. An examination of the company’s existing brand-related global competencies also highlighted a lack of individually-targeted offerings.

What the organisation did

  • Introduced UK Training Academy, designed to provide the training needed by all employees in line with the objectives identified by themselves or by their managers.
  • Identified a number of topics to improve, including communications skills, influencing and personal effectiveness.
  • Derived a flexible suite of initiatives called “Lunch & Learn”, which are 90 minute, bite-sized sessions for which employees can nominate themselves.
  • Offered IT surgeries (where employees can sit with IT specialists for their dedicated needs).
  • Introduced leadership development workshops and personal development training, plus other bespoke courses.
  • Broad selection of relevant books and publications have been put together in library format so people still have the chance to access the information even if they cannot attend the courses.

Benefits and achievements

  • New management development programme is broader in its appeal and more accessible.
  • Training academy has assisted with development of hard and soft skills.
  • Staff have been given the opportunity to increase their sphere of influence and illuminate their future pathways to advancement.
  • Eight senior managers in the business are each being mentored by a director, and will themselves become mentors in the future.
  • In two years’ time 50% of the people in the organisation will be involved in a formal mentoring relationship.

Judge’s comments

“Good focus on individual responsibility for learning.”


Hymans Robertson

About the organisation

Hymans Robertson is a leading pensions, risk and benefits actuarial consulting firm – employing around 650 people across four UK offices.

The challenge

Listening to the feedback from teams within the business, Hymans Robertson needed to seek out new ideas to further improve its learning and development offering to ensure that it remained aligned with its strategic goals. Its next aim is to reach three-star status in “Best Companies” (the UK’s most respected employee engagement programme) results.

What the organisation did

  • Developed a career development review process looking at how every employee will contribute to the achievement of strategic goals and how learning and development can support this.
  • Organised “Exceptional People Leadership programmes”.
  • Invested in three development streams for consultants, covering consulting skills, management development skills and personal development skills.
  • Set up “Pitch To Win” development programme, to increase consultants’ performance in high-stake conditions.
  • Learning and development facilitators worked with mangers to design and facilitate more than 60 team development sessions/away days.
  • Board members delivered 16 strategy roadshows across the company, attended by more than 400 staff.

Benefits and achievements

  • Seventy-five per cent of equity partners have undertaken leadership development programmes, working with executive coaches and mentoring others.
  • Coaches deliver more than 1,000 hours of 1:1 coaching sessions each year for partners, senior consultants, people leaders and high-potential employees.
  • More than 90% of employees have participated in team development sessions.
  • Crowned Actuarial/Employee Benefits Consultancy of the Year at the UK Pensions Awards in 2014.
  • Reached number 42 on the Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work for list.

Judges’ comments

“Strong application showing deep organisational engagement with learning and development.”


C&C

About the organisation

C&C (Central and Cecil) is a housing trust, providing care and support to older people, including affordable accommodation, specialised care and support, arts and education services and a day centre. It employs around 500 staff, based at locations throughout London and the suburbs.

The challenge

In order “to be recognised as an innovative provider of excellent homes and services for older people” C&C needed to refresh its brand. There was a distinct lack of staff ownership in dealing with internal and external customers, and staff identified learning opportunities as simply “going on courses”. The senior management group operated in silos and their meetings were heavily operationally focused, while teams failed to work effectively together to resolve systemic failures and managers did not exhibit strong leadership behaviours.

What the organisation did

  • Worked with customer service organisation Mary Gober International (MGI) to develop “Inspiration Workshops”.
  • Workshops focused on C&C core values – respect, integrity and partnership.
  • Developed two-day workshop for 30 managers within central office and housing departments, including a competition to design a gingerbread house, which was then presented to the residents at the eight care homes owned by C&C.
  • Developed a set of behaviours that underpinned the Inspiration Workshops, including: leadership; creativity; ownership and responsibility; continuous improvement and solutions orientated; learning and knowledge sharing; and openness, trust and respect.
  • Introduced a new format for staff appraisals, along with a comprehensive resources folder.
  • Training sessions were delivered to staff, whereby they played “Appraisalopoly” – a version of Monopoly, designed to link the Inspiration Workshops and behaviours to the appraisal.

Benefits and achievements

  • Number of employment relations cases reduced by 64% in the six months after the Inspiration Workshops, compared with the previous year.
  • Customer satisfaction increased to 91%, the highest ever.
  • Following the Inspiration Workshops, the CEO and a customer liaison officer were nominated for the Housing Heroes Awards 2014.
  • Shortlisted for the Housing Innovation Awards 2014.
  • Investors in People assessor recommended that C&C went for the Silver Accreditation, which it is now working towards.
  • All senior managers within C&C now attend a quarterly meeting, reviewing the business plan and developing ideas for further embedding the behaviours.
  • Increased focus on L&D further demonstrated through initiatives, such as “Learning at Work Week”, which focused heavily on the principles of the Inspiration Workshops and behaviours.

Judges’ comments

“A clearly identified and stretching challenge addressed with well-thought-out and creative L&D delivery.”

Comments are closed.